December 27, 2013

Salento is in the heart of the Zona Cafetera, between Medellin and Bogota. To get there we flew from Cartenga to stop over night in Medellin, then took a 5 hour coach and bus via Armenia.

The hostel in Salento is attached to a coffee farm and run by an eccentric ex-Australian and his teenage family. Fresh coffee was on tap, and we took the excellent coffee farm tour, in English.

It is possible to go horse riding almost anywhere in Colombia, and we did so here in Salento. Riding for 3 hours, crossing the river several times and passing through a dis-used tunnel to a waterfall.

An early morning short jeep ride away is Valle de Cocora, notable for its up to 60m tall wax palms - Colombia’s national tree. On the way is a humming bird sanctuary where they served aguapanela -  a bowl of warm sweet liquid into which you add pieces of cheese.

Colombian Food

Early in the trip a Dutch guy said he hand’t had a decent meal in Colombia. In Bogota we ate delicious tamales - corn dough, chicken and spices wrapped in plantain leaves and boiled for hours, but generally the food was plain. Typically a clear soup containing pieces of meat, plantain and potato; followed by main course of flattened fried chicken breast, an up turned bowl of rice, potatoes and a lettuce/tomato garnish. To finish a small milky caramel jelly desert.

Returning from Cocora, the old jeep carried 12 tourists back. The driver plus 2 in front; 6 on benches inside, and 4 standing on the running board at the back.

The return trip to Bogota was 8 hours by coach from Armenia. After queuing for an hour to get a taxi, the driver in Bogota misread our address and took us away from our destination until I showed him where to go on my smart phone navigation app.

The Where am I ? app

For those times when it is essential to know where you are, such as when to get off a coach, the ‘OsmAnd’ app proved invaluable. Combining an offline map with GPS, you can find out not just your location, but your speed and distance from your destination if you so desire. Won’t work if you are flying, probably due to speed, altitude or both.

The return flights to London departed early the next morning.

~~ The end ~~

Below: Valle de Cocora 

Below: Valle de Cocora

Below: Valle de Cocora

>> Start at Bogota

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